Seven common mistakes businesses make when outsourcing

Angela McDonald • 28/06/2016

When businesses first start outsourcing, they often make errors which cost them later. Deployed can assist when you begin the outsourcing project to help you avoid these common mistakes:

 

1. Not communicating effectively
Communication is vital when dealing with offshore staff. From the outset you need to have lines of communication set up so you can ensure your remote team knows what you need from them. Just as important, you need to be available and approachable for your team to ask questions of you, or have a designated person who is. It is far preferable for your staff to ask two clarifying questions than work to the wrong assumptions.
You need to be clear about the goals for their role – whether that is per project or ongoing. And any changes to those goals, or to their requirements, needs to be communicated fully to your offshore staff. Don’t expect your staff to read your mind, especially at that distance.

2. Relying too much on email
This is a follow-up to the last point. Email is an amazing tool to use when communicating with your remote team. But it has its limits. Too often we see long chains of emails between parties when the problems could have more easily been worked out during one phone call or video chat. This wastes valuable time at both ends. Making the best of both worlds, you can follow up up a phone call with an email. This should clarify any areas where you felt there were misunderstandings and list major points from the discussion. Doing this ensures that both sides can address any miscommunications or add additional points; thus keeping you both on the same page, as well as providing a record of the conversation.

3. Being driven only by cost
There are great savings to be made by outsourcing some of your work. But when you focus entirely on the cost of your outsourcing venture, you often miss the value you are adding to your business. Ask yourself what else you want to gain by going offshore. You may wish to reach a broader pool of talent. You may wish to hire someone with more experience than you can find locally. By outsourcing you can make your local staff more efficient and more productive in their core roles. All of these are great values of outsourcing which have nothing to do with cost. If you are unsure of what you could gain by outsourcing other than cheaper labour, Deployed can help you by sitting down with you and discussing your business goals.

4. Trying to outsource too much at once
Some business-owners are very gung-ho about the potential of outsourcing, so much so that they want to outsource everything at once – or at least a lot of major processes and roles. But in order to develop proper working relationships with your remote team, you need to build your offshore office more slowly. It takes time to realise the benefits of outsourcing – by outsourcing too much, too soon, you could miss out on some of the benefits entirely. You may also find yourself frustrated at not seeing immediate results, which will give you the wrong idea about outsourcing completely. Instead of jumping in with both feet, start small. As your outsourcing efforts produce success, you can scale them up.

5. Not treating offshore staff like human beings
Out of sight should not be out of mind. Just because your remote team is working in the Philippines, and not in your local office, does not mean that they are robots or elves. Thus it is important not to overload them with work, as it is not being done by magic.
Everyone wants to work for someone who they feel cares about them. So when you talk or email with your remote team, take the time to find out about who they are. Ask about their lives, their families, and their hobbies. Take the time to understand the culture, Get to know them like you would any local staff member.
Always remember that you hired the person for a reason – respect their skills and abilities. Be open to any ideas they come to you with, they might turn out to be great concepts which you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

6. Being unwilling to change
Outsourcing is a change in how you do business, there is no question about that. So if you are unwilling to change the methods and ways in which you have always done things, then it will be a struggle to make the outsourcing relationship work as well as it could do. Similarly, if you have made a plan for how you want to outsource, that plan needs to be flexible and contain room for changes in numbers and processes. That will allow you to make the most out of outsourcing. Deployed will support you in creating a plan with the right amount of structure and flexibility for your outsourcing mission.

7. Not rewarding good work
As an employee, why would you put maximum effort in for an employer who never recognises when you’ve done a great job? Provide the same kinds of incentives to your offshore staff as you do for your local team. Make sure that your remote team is recognised for their work within the company – and that they know they are being recognised and respected as part of the business. Celebrate milestones and successful projects with your remote team like you would with your in-house team. By ensuring that your offshore staff know that their efforts are valued, you ensure that they continue to make that extra effort.

 

Working with Deployed, we can guide you through the outsourcing process from our initial meeting right through to onboarding your remote staff and beyond. That way you can be sure of avoiding these mistakes, plus many more, while you outsource and grow your business.